Interview with Edna’s Estate Planning Attorney, Mel Practiss

Detective Whodunit arrived at Mel Practiss’ office the Monday after Thanksgiving. “Thank you for agreeing to meet with me today, Mr. Practiss. Again, my name is Detective Whodunit and I am here to talk with you about Edna. I understand you were her estate planning attorney. Is that correct?”

“Yeah, yeah, Edna was a long-time client of mine.  She was a great lady. Can’t believe she is gone,”  Mel said.

“When was the last time you met with her?” Whodunit asked.

“Well, let me grab the file. Let’s see here. The last time I met with her was last week.  She came in and told me that she wanted to change her estate plan. Initially, her estate plan was drafted to give Denise everything. When she came in last week, she asked me to change it to 50% Carla, 25% to Denise and 25% to Daisy. Let me see here.  What else do my notes say?” Mel asked while shuffling through the file.  “She and Carla sat right here in my office; kind of hard to believe Edna’s gone.”

“Did Edna tell you what sparked the change?” Whodunit asked.

Mel responded by saying, “She always told me that Carla was good to her and that Denise was usually yelling at her for a rough childhood. When she came in to see me last week, she said she was tired of Denise always yelling and fighting with her and that Carla was better to her than Denise.”

Mel then said, “Don’t worry though. I had a bad feeling about what she was doing so I did not discuss a Certificate of Independent Review with her.  So, pursuant to Probate Code Section 21384, there is a presumption that Edna was unduly influenced to give Carla her estate. Thank goodness for Probate Code 21380, because Carla may have a hard time rebutting the presumption that Edna’s estate plan was not the product of fraud or undue influence!  My mother didn’t raise any stupid children and I’ve seen this kind of thing before so I let Carla stay in the estate plan so that Edna’s family could argue undue influence later.  I never liked Carla anyway. She always looked at me funny.”

Whodunit responded by asking, “Is the only reason that you didn’t like Carla because she looked at you funny?”

Mel immediately replied that he did not like Carla because he felt Carla was only out to get Edna’s money and was unreasonably aggressive because her boyfriend, Ivan, came to him seeking legal advice for domestic violence.

“So, was Carla in the room when Edna asked you to change the estate plan?”  Whodunit asked.

“Yup, actually, she was.  And, the only reason she was in the room in the first place is because she was Edna’s power of attorney and Edna felt comfortable with Carla in the room,”  Mel stated.

“Did Carla say anything during the meeting?”  Whodunit asked.

“No. She just sat there quietly, with a smirk on her face,”   Mel said.

“Did you ever have any trouble communicating with Edna?” the detective asked.  “No, like I said, Edna was really sharp and communicated well with me.  She had more physical limitations than mental ones,” Mel said.

“Now that Edna has passed on, who is in charge of her estate?” Whodunit asked. “That’s easy, she named a private fiduciary. She didn’t want to inconvenience Carla or Denise.”

Detective Whodunit thanked Mel for his time and left his office.